Has your parenting ever been scrutinized by another parent? It’s an awful feeling when you get a wag of the finger from someone you barely know over how you discipline your child or any other parenting choices you make for your family.
“You let them eat that?” “We don’t use your ‘cry it out’ method of sleep training because we feel it isn’t a humane way to treat a child.” Ouch.
It does take a village to raise a child and yet never before has the parenting community been so divided and vocally opinionated about the variations in approaches to child rearing.
While an open discussion would be helpful for parents to learn various perspectives, practice flexibility in thinking, and exercise their critical thinking skills, instead parents usually quip rude remarks that help no one.
So what should you do when you get a parenting dis?
Respond, Don’t React
Take a deep breath and compose yourself. Otherwise you may regret what you blurt out without consideration for what you are truly trying to achieve by making a comment.
Decide Your Purpose
There are several ways this confrontation could go depending on what you want to achieve. We all know how cathartic it can feel to sling back a great retort. Touché! Take that!
That may serve the purpose of making you feel better, but perhaps you could achieve even more benefits if you worked through a plan of action. Decide if your reply falls in line with your values and the character traits by which you want to live your best life — not to mention that you want to demonstrate for your kids.
" Decide if your reply falls in line with your values."
Let It Go
Sometimes saying nothing is the best way to go. If you know your mother-in-law is a critical person in general and not just about your parenting, then this is character issue. She is unlikely to change her behaviour, no matter what you say.
Remind yourself this is about her, not you. If you feel you have to say something, try “Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ll consider them.” This remark does not say you agree, or disagree. It respectfully closes down any further discussion on the matter. Move along to a new topic!
You may decide that you need to let this person know they are being judgmental. Don’t fight fire with fire and judge them back. Instead, speak up respectfully for yourself. Only comment on your feelings and perspectives.
Instead of “You are judgmental,” try “When you make comments like that it makes me feel belittled and like I am being judged.” You may even say “I would prefer if you kept your opinions to yourself.”
Discuss Instead Of Dis
If the person who makes you feel judged is your parenting partner or a close friend that you spend a lot of time with, you have more invested.
"Lots of wonderful people have opposite opinions and it doesn’t have to jeopardize your relationship. "
Have intelligent, open discussions about your parenting differences. If after serious consideration you are still polarized on a viewpoint, that is OK! Simply agree to disagree. Lots of wonderful people have opposite opinions and it doesn’t have to jeopardize your relationship.
Keep the topic of parenting out of your daily discussions. Withhold your own judgments. Remember, Democrats and Republicans can be friends if they don’t talk politics. So can vegans and meat eaters if they don’t talk animal welfare. Cloth or disposable diapers, public or private school. We can all get along if we try!